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The Battle of Life. Charles Dickens

To say that she had two left legs, and somebody else′s arms, and that all four limbs seemed to be out of joint, and to start from perfectly wrong places when they were set in motion, is to offer the mildest outline of the reality. To say that she was perfectly content and satisfied with these arrangements, and regarded them as being no business of hers, and that she took her arms and legs as they came, and allowed them to dispose of themselves just as it happened, is to render faint justice to her equanimity. Her dress was a prodigious pair of self-willed shoes, that never wanted to go where her feet went; blue stockings; a printed gown of many colours, and the most hideous pattern procurable for money; and a white apron. She always wore short sleeves, and always had, by some accident, grazed elbows, in which she took so lively an interest, that she was continually trying to turn them round and get impossible views of them. In general, a little cap placed somewhere on her head; though it was rarely to be met with in the place usually occupied in other subjects, by that article of dress; but, from head to foot she was scrupulously clean, and maintained a kind of dislocated tidiness. Indeed, her laudable anxiety to be tidy and compact in her own conscience as well as in the public eye, gave rise to one of her most startling evolutions, which was to grasp herself sometimes by a sort of wooden handle (part of her clothing, and familiarly called a busk), and wrestle as it were with her garments, until they fell into a symmetrical arrangement.

Such, in outward form and garb, was Clemency Newcome; who was supposed to have unconsciously originated a corruption of her own Christian name, from Clementina (but nobody knew, for the deaf old mother, a very phenomenon of age, whom she had supported almost from a child, was dead, and she had no other relation); who now busied herself in preparing the table, and who stood, at intervals, with her bare red arms crossed, rubbing her grazed elbows with opposite hands, and staring at it very composedly, until she suddenly remembered something else she wanted, and jogged off to fetch it.

′Here are them two lawyers a-coming, Mister!′ said Clemency, in a tone of no very great good-will.

′Ah!′ cried the Doctor, advancing to the gate to meet them. ′Good morning, good morning! Grace, my dear! Marion! Here are Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs. Where′s Alfred!′

′He′ll be back directly, father, no doubt,′ said Grace. ′He had so much to do this morning in his preparations for departure, that he was up and out by daybreak. Good morning, gentlemen.′

′Ladies!′ said Mr. Snitchey, ′for Self and Craggs,′ who bowed, ′good morning! Miss,′ to Marion, ′I kiss your hand.′ Which he did. ′And I wish you′ - which he might or might not, for he didn′t look, at first sight, like a gentleman troubled with many warm outpourings of soul, in behalf of other people, ′a hundred happy returns of this auspicious day.′

′Ha ha ha!′ laughed the Doctor thoughtfully, with his hands in his pockets. ′The great farce in a hundred acts!′

′You wouldn′t, I am sure,′ said Mr. Snitchey, standing a small professional blue bag against one leg of the table, ′cut the great farce short for this actress, at all events, Doctor Jeddler.′

′No,′ returned the Doctor. ′God forbid! May she live to laugh at it, as long as she CAN laugh, and then say, with the French wit, "The farce is ended; draw the curtain."′

′The French wit,′ said Mr.

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